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In this lavish companion to the BBC series "Earth: The Power of the Planet", renowned science writers Iain Stewart and John Lynch use stunning imagery and the latest scientific discoveries to explain how our remarkable planet functions. Earth has survived four and a half billion years of being 'stirred from below and bombarded from above' but at the start of the twenty-first century our planet faces new threats, brought about by human actions. It is the perfect time to look back on an extraordinary life and give Earth a thorough health-check. Each chapter focuses on one of Earth's most powerful forces - meteor impacts, plate tectonics, the ocean, atmosphere and ice - and explores their central role in keeping Earth alive.These are the forces that drive our planet and shape its destiny. We discover how a devastating cosmic impact blasted a huge chunk of Earth into space to form the Moon, how Earth nearly froze to death when it was completely encased in ice for millions of years, and how Earth's remarkable heat engine, its molten core, saved the day. Earth has been able to sustain complex life thanks to an extraordinary number of lucky breaks and coincidences. Scientists predict that one day it will die as the Sun heats up and expands. But are we hastening its end through our actions? This lavishly illustrated book will tell the epic story of the birth, life and future of our amazing planet.